Institutional members access full text with Ovid®

Share this article on:

An Automated System for Public Health Surveillance of School Absenteeism

Baer, Atar PhD, MPH; Rodriguez, Carla V. PhC, MPH; Duchin, Jeffrey S. MD

Journal of Public Health Management and Practice: January/February 2011 - Volume 17 - Issue 1 - p 59–64
doi: 10.1097/PHH.0b013e3181e39ec3
Original Article

Public Health-Seattle & King County established an automated system for monitoring school absenteeism data from 18 of 19 public school districts in King County, Washington. The system receives a daily aggregate count of the number of students enrolled and absent, stratified by school district, school name, and grade. A name and unique identifier are provided for each school and district, as well as the level (eg, elementary, middle, high, alternative, other) and zip code of each school. Files are transmitted to the health department daily and include data from the previous school day. Public Health—Seattle & King County developed a series of visualizations that summarize the data by day, week, and month for each level of stratification. The automated system for collecting and monitoring school absenteeism data was more acceptable, simple, timely, complete, and useful relative to traditional manual data collection methods.

Supplemental digital content is available in the text. This article describes the automated school absenteeism system that Public Health—Seattle & King County established for collecting and monitoring school absenteeism in King County, Washington.

Public Health—Seattle & King County, Seattle, Washington; University of Washington, Seattle.

Correspondence: Atar Baer, PhD, MPH, Public Health—Seattle & King County, 401 Fifth Ave, Ste 900, Seattle, WA 98104 (

We thank Curtis Drake at Public Health—Seattle & King County for his technical assistance in establishing automated reporting from schools. We also thank Pegi McEvoy, Gabriela Larson, Christopher Fleming, Tito Martinez, Dave Ettel, Fred LaCroix, Paula De Fusco, Jim Ratchford, and Margarita Medina at Seattle Schools; Allen Miedema, Julie Cole, and Sandie Tracy at Northshore School District; Mark Finstrom and Eric Worden at Highline School District; Eddie Turcotte and Chris Nelson at Federal Way Public Schools; Joe Tansy and Brad Bronsch at School Data Solutions; and Don Denny and Henrik Magnusson at the Washington School Information Processing Cooperative for coordinating the capture of data from the school districts. Finally, we thank Tao Sheng Kwan-Gett at Public Health—Seattle & King County for providing input on the development of the data visualizations and analyses and for reviewing the manuscript. This publication was made possible by the Public Health Emergency Response grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Its contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Supplemental digital contents are available for this article. Direct URL citations appear in the printed text and are provided in the HTML and PDF versions of this article on the journal's Web site (

© 2011 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.